Maurice faces tough calls

LANCE HORNBY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:48 AM ET

Paul Maurice made sure to bring sharp pencils and a jumbo eraser on the flight to Columbus yesterday, pondering changes in all three positions in the Maple Leafs next two games:

- The coach used some humour to bluff his way through a question about splitting the back-to-back matches against the Blue Jackets and Rangers between goaltenders Andrew Raycroft and Jean-Sebastien Aubin.

No one tipped their blocker yesterday at Lakeshore Lions Arena, but Raycroft has never faced the Jackets, while Aubin is 3-0 with a 2.31 goal-against average. Aubin has enjoyed his greatest success against New York (10-2-2).

- The coach has noticed the zero beside defenceman Bryan McCabe's goal total, but that he and partner Tomas Kaberle have the lion's share of ice time and four of seven assists.

"When is the right time to spread that around?," Maurice mused.

The big concern is how much on-the-job training Maurice will grant Ian White, Jay Harrison and Brendan Bell.

- Forward Ben Ondrus' imminent return, Nik Antropov's setback and the inconsistent play of the Leafs during a loss-win-loss-win-loss-win-loss start to the season could see some redistribution of ice time or full changes.

The Leafs have kept winger Alex Suglobov in reserve, while Maurice has used Wade Belak on defence in practice, but employed him at right wing against Colorado on Wednesday.

After weighing options on letting Ondrus work his way back from a contusion in a conditioning stint with the Marlies, Maurice now seems to favour using him with the Leafs.

"You can hit just as hard in the NHL as the AHL," Maurice said. "He won't be driving the power play here. We'll discuss it on the plane."

Antropov worked out for 45 minutes on his own yesterday, but Maurice reported some swelling in Antropov's leg that would likely delay his trip to Columbus.


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